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10-Year-Old Boy Refuses to Say Pledge of Allegiance

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KNWA News: WEST FORK, Arkansas -- "When I heard from the principal, I was not happy," said Jay Phillips.

girl reciting plege of allegiance

Jay and Laura Phillips were shocked to hear their 10-year-old talked back to a teacher at West Fork Middle school Thursday -- but were less surprised when they found out why.

"Don't push him -- four days of hassle, hassle, hassle and raise your voice," said Laura Phillips. "He's going to lose his temper."

Their son told them last weekend he had decided to no longer stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance at school because he didn't believe there is liberty and justice for all, especially when it comes to gay rights.

"To say them [words] and not mean them would be a lie," Jay said.

This week their son says a substitute teacher prodded him every day to stand up and say the pledge after he had refused. He then says he got angry, and talked back. The Phillips said that they reprimanded him for that, but they don't want him to be pushed to do something he doesn't feel comfortable doing.

"We would like to have the school make sure the teachers know the kids do have the right to sit down and make their own choices, even if he is only 10 and in 5th grade," Laura said.

She chooses not to say the Pledge of Allegiance, but Jay does. They said that they respect each other's choices -- and their son's -- and they don't see it as an insult to the country.

"He is not anti-American," Laura said. "He is very proud to live here, but he knows even at 10 he can make changes."

The West Fork School District responded by saying that they don't require students to say the pledge.

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68 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kevin Gets November 17, 2009, 8:02 AM

TO: Paul V.

Sure, Pedophilia is a crime. But using the boy’s logic, it can be made “not a crime’ cause pedophiles have rights too? (Sarcasm Here). I don’t condone pedophilia but again, his logic is still out of context.

Marriage as it was written in the minds of our fore fathers was [implied] to be between a man and a woman. The puritian ethic of the day surely did not include homosexuals. Our country was founded under Christian morals. The Constitution is not a living document. Liberals seem to have thier own interpretation of it though. With this said, ingnorance lies within “your” interpretation.

Kevin Gets November 17, 2009, 8:33 AM

Oh…. Gay Marriage is technically a crime in most states. Maine for example, made it LAW that they will not allow gay marriage. Therefore, if two people get mairred as same sex in the state of Maine, they have… broken the law which is a crime. Not as bad a Pedophilia mind you, but still a crime.

dan November 17, 2009, 8:45 AM

I and a lot of other gay americans stood up every morning to pledge allegiance to the flag. the flag is just cloth, but it represents the goodness, fairness and freedom that all military people have fought for and the sacrifices they made, including being shot and killed in combat. yes, many gay men and women have fought and died for our country and others have served proudly and honorably. being gay has never meant being anti-american. In this country I have the freedom to live my life and love anyone I choose to.In some countries, I would be killed for living my life as I do here. as far as rights, even in this country there are many people who are treated negatively because of their religion, ethnicity, political beliefs and many other things, but regardless, we are all americans. showing respect to the flag, which stands for all american citizens, not only the politicians in washington, is not wrong.

Stephanie November 17, 2009, 9:17 AM

I stopped saying the pledge when I was in ninth grade because it is a complete lie. That does not make me un-American. I am proud to be an American, but that does not change the fact that it is a lie. I was threatened to be kicked out of school if I didn’t say it, and that is not right. But I still did not say it, nor will I ever say it until it is no longer a lie.

Nate November 17, 2009, 9:33 AM

Too bad he has to wait 25 years to be president. We need someone who can see through all this mud.

It is a shame that some people in this country believe you can vote away someone’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness … because they are different from you. Hiding behind a religious argument doesn’t cut it. From what I was taught, God is love and accepting. It is Leviticus who spewed forth this hatred. BTW, he also tossed out twenty odd other rules that everyone seems fine to ignore.

Kevin Gets November 17, 2009, 3:14 PM

I’m not hiding behind religion. I am stating a fact… under the attitudes of the day when the Constitution was written, they surely did not imply same sex marriage to be inclusive.

I view homosexuals not from a religious point, but rather like I do people born blind. People that are born blind have two eyes, yet there was a defect in a gene or chromosome or some other chemical imbalance that caused them to go blind. Same may hold true for homosexuals… there may be a gene or chromosome or some chemical imbalance that has made their behaviour opposite of their gender. In my view, I would not give a blind person a drivers lisence for obvious reasons. I would not also condone same sex marriage because it is damaging to the human social fabric. I could go on about this but… this is not the venue for explaining the effects of homosexuallity within a social structure. Hate me if you wish… but I do not hate you.

Roberta November 18, 2009, 7:56 PM

Kevin, I agree with you and one thing that really bothers me is I fear for this child’s safety. Unfortunately their are people that would hurt or kill this child for taking this stand. This does happen. There has been way too much publicty in newspapers, television and the internet. This should have been handled quitely between the child,parents and the school. I believe he is doing what he believes is right and I have to admire him for that, but he is a child and the his parents should have never allowed his views to be exposed to the public. I just wonder if they took into consideration the harm they may have cause him by doing so. I have never in my life ever considered not pledgeing alligience to the flag or to my country. I am grateful to have been born an American.

Kimberly November 19, 2009, 6:54 PM

I hope that I was as brave and self-confident as Jay is when I was ten years old, but I have to admit that I probably wasn’t. I congratulate his parents on raising a Real American. Real Americans dissent. They stand up for what they believe in no matter how unpopular that view is with the current populace. After all, our Founding Fathers, as wise as they were, were wrong on a number of issues and it took people not satisfied with ‘good enough freedoms’ or ‘better than other country’s freedoms’ to stand up and demand better freedoms. These freedoms are ideas that some of our Founding Fathers would have called preposterous like women having the right to own land, or black people as president, or poor people the right to vote. Jay, and his generation, is heralding in a new generation of Civil Rights, which will hopefully include homosexuals, immigrants, and real religious freedom (not the imposition of Christian Will over the rest of us). People will fight this new age, just as people fought against every new wave of freedom before. None of this is new. But, freedom always wins. It is the people who take the worst criticism, the worst insults, the worst that humanity can throw at them that end up doing the best for this country, and drag it kicking and screaming into the new eras. I’m sure this child meant no disrespect to the men and women fighting for this country (though had this not occured near Veteran’s Day would anyone have made that comment?), but just the opposite, he saw them fighting for a country that could be so much better and wanted to be better. But, my respect is not only for the men and women in our military but also for the people like Jay who are fighting for this country in his own way. I think children are a lot more understanding that people give them credit. Their judgement is not as clouded by bigotry, religion, ‘common sense’, and prejudice.

Rather not Say November 20, 2009, 11:32 AM

I respect this young man and his decision! He has a right and what he is standing for makes absolute sense. There is not justice for all and i commend him for his courageous behavior!! Young man you WILL make a difference watch and see. You are speaking for me and many others like me. THANK YOU!!!!

foxroswell November 20, 2009, 12:29 PM

Although this child may have the right to refuse to say the “pledge of allegiance,” he does not have the right to backtalk to a teacher. In some countries, if he did this, he would be very sore.

Unfortunately, our society has created a culture of entitlement where “individual rights” trump respect for authority and the good of the community. This kid is a product of that. I am not surprised that he wants to be a lawyer—-the type that files bogus lawsuits and costs society lots of money and grief.

Wendy G November 22, 2009, 11:41 AM

I’m grateful to this young man (and his parents for supporting him) for taking a stand and in so doing for inviting we so-called elders to more seriously look at our own values, beliefs and behaviors.

I’m always saddened when I hear our founding fathers used as justification for keeping things static and bowing to unjust authority. We seem to forget how truly radical their views were for their day—the idea that one could educate individuals to such an extent that they could be trusted to govern themselves, live peaceably and cooperatively with those of differing views, and nonviolently hand off the reins of leadership was (and apparently remains) revolutionary.

They NEVER expected the world to remain unchanged, nor did they intend to shackle us with their views, laws and customs. In fact, they EXPECTED the very opposite.

As Jefferson himself said, “I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions…. But I know, also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. … We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”

May we be as wise as he and ensure we are not being “barbarous ancestors” to our own children.

JC November 30, 2009, 10:42 AM

Such a brave kid!

For those of you who feel he is dishonoring his country, remember: we have troops overseas right now who are defending the freedom of speech which he is exercising. And whether you like what he has to say (or not say), you must realize it is his right.

And as a veteran, I am not offended at all - it makes me proud that we live in a country where a child can feel free to express himself with so much compassion and devotion!

James Smith  February 12, 2010, 3:25 PM

Wow, what a lot of sick, sick people there are. Freedom doesn’t mean anything in the USA unless you are a right-wing religious reich that hates gays, minorities and heathen bastard atheists.

I am offended by christians, I think they should all be shipped back to Israel and let the rot in the “holy Land”.

Isn’t that as fair as their intolerance of everyone else?

JOHNNY March 31, 2010, 12:23 PM

You bunch of haters, At least try to understand what the kid is trying to say .FREEDOM AND JUSTICE FOR ALL

Desiree May 20, 2010, 6:43 PM

So because what someone else wants to do “offends” a very large amount of Americans, The smaller portion of Americans get to just DEAL with the way things are? Save it! Where’s the “equality” in that?
I’m not gay, however I do believe that gays should be allowed to marry. That is their choice and their decision to make, NOT mine and NOT yours.

Desiree May 20, 2010, 6:49 PM

@Kevin Gets
Pedophilia isn’t even on the same spectrum as what we are discussing here. The kid doesn’t want to say the pledge because he doesn’t want to lie. Gay rights has nothing to do with someone being a pedophile, you’re blowing this way out of proportion.

bonez565 October 5, 2010, 4:34 PM

does this remind any one else of the book “Nothing but the Truth”?

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I dont really know what youre talking about here. This cant be the only way to think about this can it? It seems like you know a lot about the subject, so why not explore it more? Make it more accessible to everyone else who may not agree with you? Youd get a lot more people behind this if you just stopped making general statements.

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